Texas officials said that it could take months to disinfect the brain-eating amoeba contaminated water that claimed the life of a 6-year-old boy.
Gov. Greg Abbott held a news conference Tuesday to address what he called “the total tragedy” of the death of Josiah McIntyre, who CNN previously reported died from single-celled brain eating amoeba Naegleria fowleri found in the Lake Jackson water supply earlier this month.
While Naegleria fowleri infections are rare, most are fatal, according to the CDC.
“The most I could do with his family was to assure them that his life was not lost in vain,” Abbott told reporters at a press conference Tuesday. “This is a total tragedy for Josiah as well as his family but we as leaders in the state of Texas must seize upon the strategy to make sure this never happens again.”
Toby Baker, executive director of Texas Commission for Environmental Quality, said employees of his department have been “working 24 hours a day to try and remedy the problem that is going on with the drinking water situation.”
However, he said that the path forward would “not be short.”
“We have to get through the boil water first, which could take two to three weeks, after that we have to get chlorine levels to a state that can burn the entire system, scour the system, and kill the amoebas,” Baker said. “That could take up to an additional 60 days.”
Abbott acknowledges the unfortunate collision of this incident and the pandemic and said a number of “private entities” had stepped up to provide water to the community while the water supply issue is being investigated.
“At a time when Covid exists and lives are already disrupted, the last thing these people in Lake Jackson need is this additional burden of not having access to the water they need,” Abbott said.
The goal, he said, is to understand where and how the presence of the deadly amoeba found its way into the water system.
“The state of Texas is going to be using every state agency that has any connection whatsoever with regard to responding to this catastrophe to make sure that they are available 24/7 to work with local leaders,” Abbott told reporters.
“And so the concern about this being replicated is minimal.”
Abbott issued a disaster declaration for all of Brazoria County on Sunday, where Lake Jackson is located.
CNN’s Gregory Lemos contributed to this report.